By Lance Jenkinson
Hoppers Crossing and Werribee Districts have played some exhilarating matches in the Western Region Football League division 1 in the past three seasons, but Saturday’s draw was undoubtedly one of the weirdest.
There must be some sort of gravitational pull between these Wyndham combatants that dictates the score will be close at game’s end.
In the past six matches between them, the average winning margin has been just
Werribee Districts have won three, Hoppers Crossing has won two – and now they have played out a draw.
A total of 21 points has separated the two sides in six games spanning three seasons.
Saturday’s game was quite the roller coaster.
At three-quarter time, Werribee Districts held what most at the ground felt would be an unassailable 26-point lead. The Tigers led handsomely on the scoreboard and were kicking to the scoring end in the fourth quarter.
Tigers coach Chris Gilham said: “You would’ve thought we were in the box seat to run away with it and get a victory. In the end, we were lucky to get away with a draw.”
It takes four quarters to beat Hoppers Crossing – that’s a non-negotiable. The Warriors are building a reputation as one of the toughest nuts to crack in the top flight.
They have out-lasted premiership contenders Deer Park, Altona and Spotswood to secure nail-biting wins, so they were not going to go down without a fight.
The Warriors produced a last quarter to remember, falling agonisingly short of an eighth consecutive win.
Gilham admitted that his side was powerless to stop Hoppers Crossing when it got a run on in the last quarter.
‘To Hoppers credit, they completely dominated the last quarter,” he said.
“They owned the ball. We just couldn’t get possession of the ball in the end.
“If you can’t get possession, you spend the whole quarter defending.
“When teams take every risk under the sun to go forward, they build a bit of momentum and it becomes too hard to stop.”
Two points each is a fair reflection of the game and how well these sides have matched up in recent times.
For Werribee Districts, it was a second draw in five weeks, after also tying with Sunshine Kangaroos.
“Before this season, I think I’ve been involved in two draws my whole life and both of those were in grand finals,” Gilham said. “You rarely draw, you might get one per season as a competition, so to have two is a bit
Despite relinquishing the big lead, Gilham is adamant his side has already moved on and is focused on another Wyndham derby – against bottom side Wyndhamvale on Saturday at Soldiers Reserve.
Wyndhamvale will enter the game on the back of a 24-point defeat to Caroline Springs, but in much-improved form.